Pascal was a French child prodigy. He was a mathematician and physicist, inventor and write. He was also studying Catholic theology. But for me, all of the previous were just a mere description of someone. It was until I saw some of his writings in his collection of “Pensées”, thoughts.
As one reads, its looks like these writings could have been written yesterday.
The words are so touching that it is impossible to not feel a strange connection with the author:
“I know not who put me into the world, nor what the world is, not what I myself am. I am in terrible ignorance of everything. I know not what my body is, nor my senses, nor my soul, nor even that part of me which thinks what I say, which reflects on all and on itself, and knows itself no more than the rest. I see those frightful spaces of the universe which surround me, and I find myself tied to one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am put in this place rather than in another, nor why the short time which is given me to live is assigned to me at this point rather than at another of the whole eternity which was before me or which shall come after me. I see nothing but infinities on all sides, which surround me as an atom, and as a shadow which endures only for an instant and returns no more. All I know is that I must soon die, but what I know least is this very death which I cannot escape.”
Every time I thought about the meaning of my existence, I meant exactly this. I have never found better words that could describe my state… and then I got shocked by the following:
“The immortality of the soul is a matter which is of so great consequence to us, and which touches us so profoundly, that we must have lost all feeling to be indifferent as to knowing what it is. […]. Thus our first interest and our first duty is to enlighten ourselves on this subject, whereon depends all our conduct. Therefore among those who do not believe, I make a vast difference between those who strive with all their power to inform themselves, and those who live without troubling or thinking about it.”
Maybe this post doesn’t fall exactly into the section poetry… but it is art, in the sense that this writing communicates the vast, infinite curiosity we bring with us since we existed as humans. We can decide (consciously or unconsciously) to deny it, but we will be always asking ourselves what I believe are the most important questions of our lives: “Who am I, and why am I here?”
Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). Thoughts.